As graduation creeps closer most, if not all, seniors are thinking to themselves, “What now?”
Most will go on to snag some sort of job in their field, many will go to graduate school to further education, or to just buy themselves some more time to figure life out.
There are even some of us who will never get a job in our field but will go on to lead happy and healthy lives here in the U.S..
In contrast, there will be some of us who will leave the country. Most will come back from their travels abroad to start up families or do whatever they feel like doing.
But there will be a small number of us who become expats.
Explaining the desire to leave the United States for good is a tough thing to do, especially to certain kinds of audiences.
In the past, leaving the United States would have been odd, it would have seemed nonsensical to most, especially those who work so hard to make their way to the United States from whatever far – flung nation they originally called home. Maybe it still seems odd.
As of this year, there are anywhere from 2.5 to 6.8 million non-military Americans living away from home according to combined numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. State Department, the World Bank.
This is a nearly four million increase from previous estimates done at the turn of the century.
These numbers are often much easier to track in terms of immigration due to the immigration process that we have.
It is much harder to track expat Americans because of the wide variety of nations that they call home that have less than thorough immigration records.
This begs the question: Why are so many more Americans leaving?
Throughout history there have been many diasporas. Humans tend to move around due to a variety of factors.
It used to be to follow game or to escape conquest but in recent years it has been more economically motivated.
While we have a steady evacuation of areas in the Middle East and Asia due to natural disaster and famine along with the obvious danger of being in a war zone, we have many millions who flee to the United States for economic reprieve.
But there is a trend starting to be noticed by those who run the numbers. There are increased numbers of American citizens seeking a new home abroad. This cannot be tied to a single reason but many economists believe that it has to do with the shortfalls that come with being part of the American populous. The United States used to rank highly in education and innovation.
Our economy was a world standard that other countries aspired to and our populous was hard working and those of us that were educated we educated to the highest degree.
Unemployment was low and there was room for more workers all over the country.
That is not the case anymore. There are a plethora of nations that not only have better education systems for both primary schooling and higher education but there are nations with more job opportunities and generally better health care and much better infrastructure.
Why stay in a country that is more worried about the bottom line than its citizens?
So what does this mean for the college student ready to graduate and start his adult life?
Well, for many of us it won’t mean a thing. America is our home and we don’t want to leave. We can make it work.
But for some of us that feel the United States is going in a direction that is not the best, that feeling urges us to look at our options.
Some of us don’t have the means to pick up and go, because in our world money is everything.
For those of us with the ability to leave, there will be many nights laying awake in contemplation.
Should we do it? Is it worth it? Is it really that bad here?
Those are the kind of questions that most of our ancestors asked when they came to the United States.
While the situation here is not dire, this election season has not instilled me with faith in the U.S. and its future.
What I am urging is consideration. Among the million other things that we have to think about at this time, we have to think about not only our immediate futures but the future of our kids and grandchildren.
Maybe the U.S. isn’t the place for them. Maybe we should get out before our roots grow too deep.
This article originally appeared in the April 6, 2016 print edition of The Echo.
image via citylab.com